Suzdal (Су́здаль;) is a historic small town in Vladimir Oblast east of Moscow Russia, about 25 km north of Vladimir. It was once the capital of several Russian principalities and has many examples of early Russian architecture. It is probably the most interesting of the Golden Ring cities.
During the time of the Soviet Union, nearly all of Suzdal's economy was planned around its tourist potential. As a result, very few modern buildings were constructed in Suzdal (by law there are no structures more than 2 stories high except cathedrals). Also, a number of wooden structures from other parts of Russia were transported here, and the whole city was converted into an 'open-air museum'. Unfortunately, Suzdal's dependence on tourism also meant its economy came to a standstill when tourists stopped coming after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The town's tourist trade now appears to be slowly revitalizing itself however, mostly due to an influx of affluent Russian tourists from Moscow and elsewhere.
Suzdal retains a rustic old Russian, Soviet-era atmosphere. You will not find any McDonalds restaurants or any trace of Western chain shops or hotels here, but locals feel that certain aspects of the town are on the cusp of being "Disney-fied". Livestock wandering the streets and elderly women washing clothes in the river (and tourists wielding digital cameras) are regular sights in Suzdal.
There are no trains to Suzdal, so aside from organized bus tours, the only way to reach the city is by bus or car. There is one daily bus from Moscow's Shelkovskaya bus station. However, a more convenient option is to first visit Vladimir, and then take a bus from there. Direct buses depart from Vladimir to Suzdal every thirty minutes (except 11:30 am), and buses bound for Ivanovo also pass through. Special private tour buses to Vladimir and Suzdal also operate from Kursky Train Station (Metro: Kurskaya, Chkalovskaya). Prices and destinations vary.
Trains leave from Moscow to Vladimir from Kurskaya Train Station. Buy tickets at the regional (short-distance) train ticket counter. This is the right wing of the Kurskaya station (Poezda Prigorodnogo Napravleniya - Gorkovskogo). Tickets cost about 300 RUB one way from Moscow to Vladimir. There are several daily departures with the earliest at 8:12am. Alternatively you can take the long distance express train, which is only about an hour and a half. Prices vary and you may need to book in advance for these trains.
From Vladimir train station exit and walk 50 meters across the parking lot to the Vladimir Bus Terminal. Purchase a bus ticket at the ticket counter (95 RUB one-way) and ask for the number of the platform. The tickets have assigned bus seat number (zero denotes no seat), so pay attention, as somebody may take your seat if you do not claim it. The bus ticket is valid up to the bus terminal (avtovokzal), which is located 2 kilometres outside of the town centre. From there, some of these buses will continue on to the town centre but a separate ticket (17 RUB) must be purchased from the bus driver.
Most of the attractions in Suzdal are located along the Lenin St (ул. Ленина), including the Spaso-Evfimiev Monastery. Local buses ply the small town (RUR 14). Notably, the monastery and the city centre can be accessed from the bus station by line #2, which arrives approximately every half hour.
Antipius and Lazarus Churches
- Spaso-Evfimiev Monastery, Ul. Lenina. 09-18. The Spaso-Evfimiev Monastery is one of the largest and best preserved monasteries in Suzdal. It is very large and houses more than 10 separate museums, including a museum commemorating the GULAG and Russian historical museums. It is just as impressive (perhaps more) than the Moscow Kremlin. One can spend an entire day touring the museums and churches. It is strongly recommended to purchases a single ticket (400 RUR) for all of the constituent museums as the guards strongly enforce admission tickets. 400.
- Suzdal Kremlin. The most remarkable and the oldest part of Suzdal, Suzdal Kremlin (named a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and the stunning Cathedral of the Nativity. Now Suzdal Kremlin is a museum with numerous expositions dedicated to the history of Suzdal land, famous people associated with it, treasures from monasteries and churches, ancient Russian paintings and art. The treasures of the Nativity Cathedral have also been moved to the museum. The museum is open daily from 10.00 to 18.00, except Tuesday and last Friday of each month.
July 16 - Cucumber Day.
A funny holiday, based on the fact that Suzdal's cucumbers have a reputation as the best cucumbers in central Russia.
This holiday is celebrated with a folk music festival.
- Walk on Kamenka River. In winter months, when the river is frozen, do walk the length of the river. This is the lifeline of the city and you will see sleighs being pulled and men ice-fishing in the river. It is a beautiful way to see the city.
- Carriage/Sleigh Ride. A carriage or sleigh ride through Suzdal is a memorable (though expensive) experience. The young men offering the rides may be found everywhere, and they start their negotiations with very steep prices (RUR 3,000 / .5 hr). You should be able to negotiate down to RUR 500 or thereabouts, depending on the season. Also, shorter rides can be negotiated.
- Catamaran Ride, Nabarezhnaya ulitsa (Набережная ул.) (just south of the Trading Halls (Torgovye Ryady, Торговые ряды)). A household near the river offers pedal catamarans for rent. Most can only take 2 persons aboard. Bags can be left for storage before boarding. 200 RUB per 30 minutes for 2 persons.
- Walk aroud with a tour guide, website: suzdalgid.ru (Your tour guide will meet you on the Market Square, 63, Lenina street). You'll see the main sights: Suzdal Kremlin, Market square, 2 monasteries and will climb up the highest bell-tower in Suzdal. You'll get tips about your stay in Suzdal - where to go and what to do. You may call a guide in advance: +7-920-628-05-22 5000 RUR per group for 3 hours.
- Trapeznaya. Located in a room of the refectory of Suzdal's Kremlin, this restaurant features a traditional Russian menu of bliny (pancakes) with caviar, priced much lower than in Moscow. Try their marinated forest mushrooms - they are beautiful and tasty, whether eaten plain or alongside a serving of cold vodka.
- Korchma. Located on Ulitsa Lenina, this is a nice restaurant in the city center featuring high-quality, traditional Russian food. The local cranberry and groundberry vodka-based liquer -- Susdalskaya Nastoika -- is worth a try.
The beverage of choice in Russia is vodka, by far. Suzdal, however, is famous for another drink, medovukha (mead), a Russian type of cider made from honey. Tourists should be wary of purchasing this drink on the streets, though, for counterfeits are common. Ask your guide where you can buy real medovukha (mead).
Suzdal is unique among Russian cities for its wide variety of choices when it comes to places to stay. There are many small hotels with 5-20 rooms. Advance booking is crucial for those who intend to visit during the New Year holiday season, Independence Day, and during the summer high season.
- "Tourist" is the largest hotel, with a 3-star rating. It is ideal for backpackers, and features "cottages" with attached garages.
- Sokol, A large hotel currently under renovation after a fire.
- Hotel Pushkarskaya Sloboda, ul. Lenina 41, ☎ +7 (49231) 2-33-03 ([email protected], fax: +7 (49231) 2-33-63), . Prices start at RUR 2,500 for a double or twin room.
- Heliopark aka "Goryachie klyuchi"  Address: ul. Korovniki, 14. Tel. +7 (09231) 28-000, +7 (0922) 42-02-77, fax. +7 (09231) 2-41-01 . A complex of hotels with big wooden rooms and a sauna, situated in a very quiet locale. From here, it takes 20 minutes to walk to the town center, and nearly 40 minutes to walk to the Kremlin. Priced from RUR 4 000.00/room.
- Vasilyevsky Monastery, Vasilyevsky Street. For those interested in a monastic type of stay, the Vasylyevski Monastery offers rooms priced at RUR 400 per person, or 800 per room. The rooms are comfortable, warm, and clean, but are fairly bare-bones, as guests live alongside resident monks. No telephone, TV, or shared kitchen is provided. Two shared bathrooms are available. Vasilyevski Monastery is located on Vasylyevski Street, the main road leading from the Suzdal bus station to the town centre. It is best to exit at Suzdal Bus Station and walk to the monastery. From the monastery to the town centre is a very pleasant 10 minute walk. Pay for the room inside the church. 400.
- Godzillas Hostel, Naberejnaya Street 32, Suzdal, 601293, (Улица Набережная 32, Суздаль, 601293), ☎ +7 492 312 5146 ([email protected]), . checkout: 12:00PM. May be the best and comfortable budget hostel for backpackers in Suzdal 8-bed Dorm: Rub700/person, 4-bed dorm: rub 800/person.
- Hostel Patchwork, Gogolya Street 59, Suzdal, 601291, (Улица Гоголя 59, Суздаль, 601291), ☎ +7 930 831 3958 ([email protected]), . checkin: 2:00PM; checkout: 12:00PM. It has the highest score on booking.com. May be the best choice for an individual traveller in Suzdal 4-bed female Dorm: Rub750/person, 4-bed mixed dorm: rub 700/person.
The Suzdal Bus Terminal is located on Vasylevski Street. It is a 20 minute walk from the city center, or a short taxi ride. Regular buses leave from Suzdal to Vladimir at short intervals (approximately 30 minutes). At least one daily bus to Moscow leaves at 5:15 AM (arrives in Moscow 10:15 AM - Shelkovskaya Metro - east end of blue line).
The Suzdal bus station is rather primitive, with minimal snack and toilet facilities available. But, it is a long walk to town, and taxi drivers who charge locals about 5 or 10 rubles to drive there will charge tourists up to 200. But, if you are coming by bus from Vladimir, do not get off there. The same bus will take you on to the center of town, unbeknownst to many visitors.
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